David Cameron visits the Harris Academy Bermondsey where he meets with students and teachers.

Bermondsey might not be normally be associated with its love of Tory politicians, but prime minister David Cameron certainly received a rapturous response from Harris Academy Bermondsey pupils when he dropped in on Monday morning.

If Justin Bieber had visited the Bermondsey girls’ secondary school he would scarcely have caused more of a stir than the prime minister.

Pupils crowded round Mr Cameron during the mid-morning break and clamoured for autographs and selfies.

David Cameron visits the Harris Academy Bermondsey where he meets with students and teachers.

The PM’s visit was to launch a £12 million Government initiative to promote mentoring schemes in secondary schools.

Once the scheme is up and running, Downing Street claims that 25,000 young people a year who are at risk of under achieving or dropping out from education will receive extra support from “high-flying professionals”.

Harris Academy Bermondsey has run a mentoring scheme for its pupils for a decade. Employees from several Southwark-based firms – including News UK, PwC and the Financial Times – act as mentors to girls preparing for GCSE exams at the Southwark Park Road academy.

Harris Academy Bermondsey is part of the Harris Federation of schools founded by the Conservative peer Lord Harris of Peckham.

David Cameron visits the Harris Academy Bermondsey where he meets with students and teachers.

The Compass free school in Bermondsey has had a boost with a positive report from Ofsted.

Last July inspectors gave the secondary school  a ‘requires improvement‘ rating – the second lowest possible grade.

In January, Ofsted inspector Madeleine Gerard carried out a monitoring visit to the school.

Her letter to headteacher Lauren Thorpe has just been made public.

Ms Gerard wrote:

You, senior leaders and members of the governing body have wasted no time in tackling issues for improvement. Working effectively together, you have put your energy into taking action to bring about improvements. You have a clear vision and coherent and strategic plans, which address the key priorities.

Read the letter in full on the Ofsted website.

Southwark Council’s cabinet has agreed to launch a formal consultation on the expansion of Rotherhithe Primary School in Rotherhithe New Road  from two to three forms of entry.

The expansion is to be part-financed by community infrastructure levy (CIL) payments from the major developments at Canada Water.

An extract from the cabinet report discussed on Tuesday:

An analysis of existing application and enrolment trends, as well as pupil projections and recent engagement with the developers has evidenced a need for additional provision in the Rotherhithe peninsular area.

To this end, we have engaged with schools in the area and have ascertained that Rotherhithe Primary School would be suitable for expansion – presently, the school is a 2FE school housed in a variety of buildings that are in a state of poor repair.

A rebuild of the school – full or partial – would allow us to be able to expand the school to contribute to meeting the needs of the new communities anticipated by the Canada Water development.

Therefore, Cabinet approval is sought to proceed to formal consultation for the expansion of the school from 2FE (60 pupils per year group) to 3FE (90).

The school will temporarily expand for 2015-2016, and 2016-2017, with a target for permanent expansion of September 2018.

The school was rated “Good” by Ofsted when inspected in 2014. This would be financed in part by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) deriving from the Canada Water development on the peninsula.

Newly launched social enterprise Bermondsey Community Kitchen (above Dunn’s Deli at The Blue) is now ready to enrol its first batch of students.

The age group they are looking for currently is 16-24, interested in cookery and would like to gain a City and Guilds qualification.

The contact details are:  [email protected] or call 020 7232 5111.

More details available on the Bermondsey Community Kitchen website.


Plans for a new primary school on the site of the old Galleywall Primary School (which closed in 2005) have moved a step closer to reality with a launch event held last week at the City of London Academy in Lynton Road.

Launch 1 - Group

The event marked the launch of a formal consultation on the plans for the new school – which like Redriff Primary School will be sponsored by the City of London Corporation.

The consultation will run from until Thursday 20 August and will give the local community the opportunity to comment via an online questionnaire at www.galleywall.co.uk and also via consultation surgeries to be held at the City of London Academy (Southwark) on Tuesday 11 August and Friday 14 August 8.30am-10.00am and 2.30pm-4.00pm.

Executive headteacher Mickey Kelly said: “I am delighted that the celebration launch event was such a resounding success and look forward to opening our Admissions to prospective parents on the 1st September 2015. Children are at the heart of our values and we look forward to welcoming new pupils in September 2016 to our outstanding new primary school at the heart of Bermondsey.”

The new school will open in temporary buildings September 2016 with an initial intake of 60 reception students and reach full capacity of 420 students by 2022.

Building works will cost up to £5.5 million and are due for completion in 2017

Prospective parents can register their interest in admissions at www.galleywall.co.uk, via telephone on 020 7252-3494 and email on [email protected]

The report of the first Ofsted inspection of the Compass secondary ‘free school’ in Bermondsey has been published and the school has received the second lowest possible rating from the education watchdog.

The Compass School opened in September 2013 on the former Southwark College Bermondsey site in Drummond Road.

Inspectors visited for the first time in May 2015 and their report has now been published.

The school has been given a rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 4 which means it ‘requires improvement’.

The report is critical of teaching, behaviour and attendance at Compass – but the inspectors also praised the principal and senior leadership for their work to improve the school.

“As we have set out in a letter to parents and our wider community, we are both surprised and deeply disappointed with the judgement we have received from Ofsted,” said principal Lauren Thorpe.

“It does not accurately reflect the fantastic progress that our students are making, nor the ethos and values of our school.

“We have formally set out our concerns about the Ofsted inspection that took place through Ofsted’s complaints process, but are now focussed on moving forward and ensuring that Compass School reaches its ambition to be an outstanding school, where all students can go on to be successful in the career that they choose.”

The new City of London-backed primary school opening next year in the former Galleywall School building will incorporate ‘Galleywall’ in its name.

According to the minutes of  last month’s meeting of the City of London Corporation’s education board:

The Education and Early Years Manager briefed members that the new City of London Primary Academy in Southwark would incorporate Galleywall into its name. This would resonate with the local community given it was the name of the longstanding school that stood on the site. In addition, the name referred the longer history of the site given it dated from a temporary fortification constructed in the area during the 11th century.

The minutes also include this rather pointed note:

The Chairman noted that the Education Board’s responsibility for the free school application at Galleywall Road in Southwark – and over other applications – needed to be asserted to prevent confusion over ‘ownership’ of the application. At present there was a risk that other bodies such as existing academy governing bodies would regard themselves as responsible for what were ultimately City of London Corporation applications. This situation reflected deficiencies in the way in which the City’s academies were now constituted, which needed addressing.

Cllr Fiona Colley and Cllr Stephanie Cryan with Redriff Primary School pupils

11-year-olds in Southwark will be given a helping hand with their finances, thanks to a new Southwark Council initiative, believed to be the first in England.

This spring, every child aged 11 in the borough will be offered the chance to set up their own bank account with the London Mutual Credit Union. All those who do so will find £10 in their account, to help them get their savings under way.

The scheme, which will cost the council £60,000, has been designed to help young people understand the concepts of banking and saving from an early age, giving them the tools to manage their money into adulthood.

Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance, strategy and performance, said: “For many of us, opening a bank account was a rite of passage, but there is still a surprising number of people who don’t have a bank account, and who therefore are limited in their options for saving and borrowing.

“This great initiative will encourage young people to think about their finances, to plan for the future, and hopefully avoid the lure of payday lenders as they get older.”

As parents must accompany their children to the credit union to set up an account, it is also an effective way to introduce many adults to the benefits of saving with a credit union. It is estimated that as many as 5 per centof people in the UK have no bank account at all. In a climate where many residents are turning to extortionate payday loans to pay their rent or buy clothes for their children, the council is determined to help residents find positive alternatives.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, deputy cabinet member for financial inclusion, added: “Southwark Council has been working hard for some time to help alleviate the severe financial problems some of our residents experience, by supporting local food banks, clamping down on payday lenders, and offering short-term financial support.

“However, we wanted to do something more long-term to help nip some of these problems in the bud and help our residents take control of their finances. If we can get people back on their feet financially, not only do we give them confidence but we also reduce their dependence on the council and other services – a real example of invest to save.”

The council has written to the parents of all eligible children to invite them to set up an account and claim their £10. Schools have also been encouraged to teach pupils about personal finance.


Construction Youth Trust, a charity helping young people to build better futures by giving them access to training, education and employment opportunities in the construction industry, has opened a new  training centre on Drummond Road

Grosvenor will host the new Construction Training Centre for the next two years on the former Lewisham and Southwark College site.

The Construction Training Centre enables young people from the area to access training, education and employment opportunities in the construction industry.

The training centre offers OCN accredited multi-skilled and trade-focused courses with Level 1 Health and Safety in Construction included in both.

Christine Townley, executive director of the Construction Youth Trust, said: “Construction Youth Trust is delighted to be opening this new training facility with the great support of Grosvenor.

“This is another step in our plans for expanding our support for young people in Southwark and across London. Partnerships with developers and contractors are a key plank in our strategy to ensure everything we do to support young people is demand-led.

“The UK has high skills shortages and high numbers of young people out of work; by working in partnership with Grosvenor and the local community we plan to change this. Together we can make a difference.”

Tony O’Reilly, director of construction and development for the Bermondsey project at Grosvenor, said: “We believe we can make a positive contribution to Bermondsey and to Southwark, and accommodating and supporting education provision alongside new homes is fundamental to our vision for this 12 acre site.

“By working with Construction Youth Trust we hope to support local people who wish to upskill, and benefit from the job opportunities that will result from the works on site in the years ahead.”


The Construction Training Centre was formally opened on Friday 17 April. Guests explored the new training facilities and heard more about how Construction Youth Trust supports young people into the industry.

To find out more visit www.constructionyouth.org.uk/budding-builders  or call 020 7467 9540.

Construction Youth Trust is sharing the former Campus site with Compass School Southwark, a mixed 11-16 school which opened in September 2013, and Old Vic New Voices, which has recently established a creative community hub on the site.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland owns the former college site as well as the neighbouring Biscuit Factory site and intends to hold a public consultation on the future of these two sites later this year.

Harris Academy Bermondsey has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for the second time in a row.

The girls’ secondary academy in Southwark Park Road, which replaced Aylwin Girls’ School in 2006, first achieved the top grade six years ago.

Alan Dane, the principal of the academy who was praised for “working very successfully to drive up standards and improve students’ progress”, said of the report:

“We are delighted with this feedback from Ofsted and so very proud of our girls and our staff. They work incredibly hard to create an exceptionally happy, productive school. Together we will continue to build on the excellent progress here to maintain this high level of success for years to come.”

Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation, said: “Congratulations to all students and staff at the academy on this highly complimentary report.

“Sustaining the top Ofsted rating across a number of years is a significant achievement and the determination of everyone at the school, led by Alan Dane and his team, sets a great example.”

Read the full report on the Ofsted website.

Last month the academy gave its premises over to the emergency services to use as a coordination centre for the operation to deal with the unexploded bomb found in nearby Grange Walk.